We have left this group until last, not because it is the least important minority, but because it is the one that will be most affected if Government do not carefully consider how Jersey will balance its books.
Liberate were part of the team reporting to Government on the experiences of the communities we serve during the first eighteen months of the COVID pandemic. Hearing the cases of Jersey residents who found themselves accessing food banks for the first time in their lives demonstrated how precarious the financial situation is for some people in Jersey. All it takes is a deviation from their regular income and they are no longer managing.
In Jersey in 2014/15, after housing costs the relative low income threshold was £410 per week before housing costs and £340 per week after housing costs. 26% of households and 23% of individuals were in relative low income. Over half of one-parent families were in relative low income; one in three working-age adults living alone were in relative low income; one in three children were in relative low income, a similar proportion to the UK; and, one in three pensioners were living in relative low income, twice the proportion of the UK. (Source: States Statistics Unit)
Jersey has always shied away from progressive taxation in the belief that it would disincentivise the wealthy from staying, settling or doing business in Jersey. However, it is not the wealthy who teach our children, nurse our elderly, collect our refuse, deliver our parcels, drive our public transport, work on the checkouts, bury our dead, grow our food, and keep us connected to power, water, drains and comms: those essential workers we all clapped for; many of whom fall into the low income bracket and many of whom we are now short of.
It is these skilled workers we need to attract with a tax regime that makes the pound in their pockets go further in an Island where housing costs are typically 60% higher and food and non-alcoholic drinks 19% more expensive than in the UK. (Source: States Statistics Unit, 2014)
We would like to see manifestos commit to investigating bold solutions to the widening divide between rich and poor in the Island and to revenue generating solutions that do not place an additional financial burden on low income households in Jersey.